ELAINE CERNY: MY GARDEN PATH — Enjoy those fall flowers

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Photo by ELAINE CERNY One of our local trees in full color.

Fall is here, for sure. Just look around as you drive down the street. You will see fall color everywhere. Most of the trees, shrubs and other things are sporting leaves of red, yellow, gold and even orange. So pretty. Enjoy them while they last as they’ll drop like a rock following the first hard freeze.

If you’ve got any spring blooming bulbs sitting around just waiting to be planted, don’t put it off as once the ground freezes you won’t be able to dig holes for them.

Speaking of cold weather, be sure to bring inside any houseplants that you’ve summered outdoors. They won’t survive being frozen.

A lot of us have miniature waterfalls in the yard. These all need to be drained and covered or put away for winter. If snow gets in them, thaws and then freezes, you’ll probably end up with a big crack or two in the bottom. When next spring arrives, good luck getting them to hold water again.

Dig up any bulbs you wish to save. These include gladiolas, tuberous begonias and dahlias. Clean off the soil and move the bulbs inside for the winter. Glads are easy; just put them into a mesh bag. Old nylon stockings work well too.

Tuberous begonias are a little bit trickier. If you want to keep track of the bulb’s flower color, mark that on a paper bag half full of shredded wood or paper, drop in the tuber, fold down the top and store around 40 degrees.

The hardest ones to save over are the dahlia tubers. Try different ways until you hit on something that works for you. I have fairly good luck using the paper bag and shreds, but other people may have a different idea that works for them. Besides keeping them in an area that remains about 40 degrees, you should open each bag and check on the tuber about once a month during winter. If the bulb appears to be shriveling, spray with some water. If it looks like it’s too wet, it may rot. Leave the bag open for a few days to dry it out some. Good luck!

Those of you who still have blooms on your roses, resist the impulse to clip them off when they’re done. They have something called “hips” that are the little bulb shaped thing that remains after the petals fall. Experts will tell you that leaving these on somehow helps the rose plant to survive winter better than they do if these are cut off.

If you haven’t fertilized the lawn for the last time, do it now. This last application in fall will do wonders for how your lawn takes off next spring. Would I lie to you?

• • •

Elaine Cerny has gardened most of her life, starting in 4-H. She has belonged to garden clubs in three states and is currently serving as secretary for the River City Gardeners Club in Post Falls. Her column appears in the Press every other Sunday from March to October.

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